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Say what you will about Pennsylvania, but the home of Three Mile Island and Legionnaires' disease has been represented in five straight world championships by five different teams: the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1979 World Series (a win over Baltimore), the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1980 Super Bowl (a win over the Rams), the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers in the '80 NHL and NBA playoff finals, respectively (losses to the Islanders and Lakers), and, of course, the 1980 world champion Phillies. Among other things, this has kept Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz busy making those silly wagers politicians are always placing on big sports events. For example, before the World Series, Heinz and Kansas Senator Robert Dole bet an unspecified quantity of Philadelphia soft pretzels against 25 pounds of Kansas beef.
Is it too much to ask that Senator Bill Bradley (D., N.J.) and Representative Jack Kemp (R., N.Y.) draw up a bipartisan Bradley-Kemp Bill to prohibit elected officials from engaging in this shopworn tomfoolery? That done, our lawmakers could then address themselves to a proposal that Washington Post political columnist David S. Broder advanced last week, with tongue perhaps slightly in cheek, as a way of combating voter apathy. Broder pointed out that general-election campaigns now start building to a climax at a time when voters are distracted by the World Series, midseason high school, college and NFL football games and the start of the NBA and NHL seasons. Hypothesizing that the steady decline in voter turnout over the past two decades has been "inversely proportional to the increase in gate receipts for the four fall sports," Broder urged that presidential campaigns henceforth begin at about the time of the Kentucky Derby in May, with Election Day scheduled for the first Tuesday following the Fourth of July weekend. In this way, Broder suggested, the patriotic fervor associated with the holiday might swell the turnout, after which Americans could "turn with a clear conscience to picnics, summer vacations—and the baseball season."
Remember your priorities now, Washington. First, deal with those silly bets, then move Election Day to July.
It wasn't long ago that the ballplayers in a World Series cared what their financial take would be; typically, it was $7,412 for each loser, $10,048 for each winner—numbers like that. The loot for the 1980 Series will be much more substantial: roughly $40,000 for each Phillie and $30,000 for each Royal, depending on how many shares each club votes, but these sums-are often rendered less important, relatively speaking, by today's vastly higher salaries. For instance, Pete Rose, who draws an $800,000 salary, said he didn't give a hoot about his Series share. He probably wasn't putting anyone on, either. A year ago, remember, Rose was awarded $23,000 by Aqua Velva for the longest hitting streak in the majors, and he gave the money to Phillie coaches.
"You know what?" Rose said of his Series take. "Now I like to play the World Series for the little guys—the clubhouse guys, the coaches, the bat boys. In Cincinnati we sent three or four kids to college off the Series."
There's a sort of noblesse oblige to those words that could evaporate the moment some smart lawyer figures out how to turn the Series into a tax shelter for players in Rose's bracket. But it's pleasant to contemplate that a kind of play-for-fun purity might have been present in the World Series and that, moreover, those accursed skyrocketing salaries everybody talks about were responsible.
PAGING DR. DeBAKEY
The heart of Texas, that fabled spot where the stars at night are big and bright, isn't as easy to locate as you might think. The U.S. Interior Department's Geological Survey says the geographical center of the state is 15 miles northeast of Brady, but Chamber of Commerce types in Waco, 100 miles to the east, like to apply the phrase "heart of Texas" to their immediate area. Now comes the golf-course designer, Robert Trent Jones Jr., to confuse the issue further.